Spanish motorcycle racing legend Angel Nieto sadly passed away on August 3rd, succumbing to injuries sustained in a quad bike crash in Ibiza in late July.
Nieto mainly raced with smaller engines, and in 1969 he took his first of many titles on a 50cc Derbi. He racked up a total of thirteen world titles, which he referred to as ’12+1′ due to superstition. Over nineteen years at the top, he racked up a massive ninety Grand Prix victories and one hundred and thirty nine podiums. He’s one of the all-time greats, and there are only two racers who have topped his number of Grand Prix wins – Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.
He has six 50cc World Championships and seven 125cc World Championships to his name, making him the rider to win the most titles with different machinery. He rode for Derbi, Bultaco, Garelli, Minarelli and Kreidler and took domestic titles in classes from 50cc to 750cc in his native Spain.
After his racing career, Nieto turned to managing and was at the helm when Emilio Alzamora when he won the 125cc World Championship in 1999. Motorcycling runs in the blood of the Nieto family, with his one son Pablo managing teams in the GP paddock after retiring from racing. He ran the Laglisse Moto3 Team from 2012-2014 and now manages Rossi’s Sky Racing Team VR46.
But underneath the serious racer and thirteen time World Champion was a role model and inspiration to many riders past and present. Tributes from across the motorcycling community have poured in since the news of Nieto’s passing was announced and there is absolutely no doubt that this weekend’s race in Brno will be in tribute to him.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Angel Nieto’s friends and family at this truly difficult time, and he will be sorely missed.